The BBC comedy series, The Goodies, was broadcast repeatedly on the ABC in Australia throughout the 1970s and 1980s. The ABC in each state had their own copies of the shows to broadcast and, as a result, didn’t always synchronise up with each other, so the episode you would see on the day would depend on which state you were watching the broadcast from. Episodes were also often shown out of order, or would be skipped entirely, especially when some states had local sports to show while others didn’t.
Sometime between the years 1978 and 1981, ABC TV in Sydney (known as channel 2 at the time) broadcast a series of The Goodies episodes which included a handful of black and white transmissions. One of these black and white episodes was the original 1971 edition of Kitten Kong. It was followed 2 or 3 weeks later by a colour broadcast of the 1972 Montreux, Silver Rose, Special edition of Kitten Kong, which had quite a few changes made to it from the original. How do I know this? My big brother had one of the first commercially available home video recorders. A clunky Betacord model, which I used to record The Goodies episodes as they were broadcast from Monday to Thursday for a short run through each year over a two year period.
The first (or possibly the second) batch of recordings, which happened sometime during my high school years from 1978 to 1981 included both versions of the Kitten Kong episodes but on separate video tapes, which allowed me to watch both episodes scene by scene to see what the differences were, with one of the main differences being the musical number. In the black and white broadcast of the original version, Bill Oddie sang a duet with a sheep. In the colour Montreux edition, two dogs sang a duet with each other instead. There were quite a few other differences, but I won’t go into detail here.
How the Sydney branch of the ABC even had the original version of Kitten Kong to broadcast is a bit of a mystery. Their acquisition records show that they declined it in favour of the Montreux edition when they first purchased the rights to show the series in Australia before we had colour television, and when it came time to repurchase the series in colour, there were 5 episodes missing from the collection thanks to the BBC wiping the original tapes to reuse for other productions. One of these missing episodes being the original version of Kitten Kong.
Nevertheless, ABC Sydney did have a black and white copy of the original episode, which is how I managed to record both versions and review them both scene by scene to study the differences between the two editions. Unfortunately, I had no knowledge about wiped episodes at the time, and ended up recording over it a few years later.
When Channel 7 purchased the rights to The Goodies in the 1980s, the ABC had to hand all of their copies of the show over, and the person who was sorting through the newly acquired episodes was very much aware of the wiped and presumed lost episodes, so when he came across 4 of them in glorious black and white amongst all the other colour episodes, he promptly notified the BBC and had them returned for archiving. Unfortunately, the black and white copy of Kitten Kong wasn’t included in the handover from the ABC to Channel 7 and it now remains the only episode to remain lost. Why it wasn’t included in the handover is just as much of a mystery as to how the ABC in Sydney had a copy of it to begin with.
Now, I remember when I was recording the episodes, the TV guide I was using at the time did mention when upcoming episodes were in black and white, and which episode was supposed to be shown for each day. Was it the TV times? Was it TV week? Was it a daily newspaper TV listing? Was it a weekly newspaper TV listing? I don’t remember. It was about 40 years ago and not a detail I’ve committed to memory.
So does anyone have any old TV guide listings which show the episodes shown of the Goodies as broadcast via ABC Sydney between 1978 and 1981? For most years it was broadcast at the 6pm time slot, but it did get bumped up to a 6:25pm slot for one year, which saw some of the normally heavily censored episodes shown without the censor cuts, even though they weren’t legally suitable for viewing uncut until about 8pm each night. There were some very enthusiastic discussions at school the next day when the pilot episode was shown with the picture of the topless women included for the first time in our hormone infused teenage memories of the show.
It would therefore be nice to get a confirmation of the black and white, original version of the Kitten Kong episode being broadcast, seeing as I seem to be the only person on the planet who has any memory of it ever being shown in Australia. It’s possible it was shown in other states as well, but I can only vouch for the Sydney broadcast. As previously mentioned, the original was shown first, in black and white, then 2 or 3 weeks later the Montreux edition was shown in full colour. Or maybe you even remember seeing these episodes both being shown within the space of a few weeks of each other. Surely there are others who remember it happening that way?